Whitelock to leave Crusaders for Japan

Crusaders blind side flanker George Whitelock has joined the exodus of players leaving New Zealand for foreign contracts.

Reports in New Zealand say that the twenty-eight-year-old will join Japan’s Panasonic Wild Knights who are coached by former Crusaders and Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.

The Wild Knights already have Highlanders halfback Fumiaki Tanaka and former Wallaby Berrick Barnes in their playing squad.

Whitelock has not started for the Crusaders since the 19th of April as Jordan Taufua has moved ahead of him in the selection order.

Whitelock won his one and only All Black cap when he came on as a replacement against Italy in 2009.

He has been a regular for the Crusaders in recent years and in 2013 he started in all 18 matches.

He also captained Canterbury to their sixth consecutive National Provincial Championship title last year and made 11 appearances in that campaign.

Crusaders hooker Corey Flynn is also leaving Christchurch to play in France for Toulouse and first five-eighth Tyler Bleyendaal has agreed to join Munster.

Zac Guildford has been released from his contract and is free to join his new club Clermont. Flynn will leave at the end of the Super Rugby season while Bleyendaal will leave after the NPC.

Other players who are leaving New Zealand are Andre Taylor, Mils Muliaina, Jackson Willison, Bundee Aki, Alipati Leuia, Chris Noakes, Jack Lam, Jarrad Hoeata and Tom McCartney.

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